MEDIA: HEADLINER - IPC’s sales boss relishes task after her tough fight to the top/IPC has made the iron lady of media sales core to its plans, Anna Griffiths says

The girl from Chigwell has done well. Georgina Crace has ditched her white-fringed cowboy boots (well, she’s shoved them into the attic), donned the subtle tones of Armani and reigns over IPC’s entire advertising operation.

The girl from Chigwell has done well. Georgina Crace has ditched

her white-fringed cowboy boots (well, she’s shoved them into the attic),

donned the subtle tones of Armani and reigns over IPC’s entire

advertising operation.



Promoted to ad director for the IPC Group last autumn, Crace professes

that she only took up the full reins of the job in March. Last week,

along with the renaming of the five magazine groups as subsidiaries,

Crace unveiled an expanded IPC ad operation, with the launch of two new

divisions.



An entire wall of Crace’s office is a mind map, with orange, pink and

yellow sticky notes inscribed with words like ’simplicity’ and

’flexibility’ stuck to it - the aftermath of her proposals for IPC

Central and IPC Solutions.



These additions are part of her plan to increase ad yields for the

magazine giant as it takes a more aggressive approach to magazine

launches.



More magazines require more advertising, and magazines as a whole are

fighting for a declining adspend. Crace, who speaks at a breakneck pace,

explains: ’The media marketplace is moving towards bigger deals. IPC now

has over 90 titles with powerful audiences which we can deliver clients

to. The problem is whether clients will be able to find the time to

access our diverse portfolio in order to make these deals. Not many

companies face that dilemma.’



IPC Solutions follows on from Crace’s successful pilot of SouthBank

Solutions, which offered advertisers tailor-made, innovative

advertising. Central sales will concentrate on getting more big-spending

advertisers by actively pursuing them while offering them a flexible and

direct service across the IPC group. Crace is keen to rack up the

current big-spender base from 11. ’We have identified ten potential new

clients - I’ll be delighted if we can achieve half of that client

base.’



With nine years’ newspaper sales experience under her belt, Crace will

no doubt make sure her team delivers, although she admits that in recent

years her management style, once described as ’bolshy’ and ’pushy’, has

softened. ’When I joined The Express in 1986 there were three women in a

sales team of 150,’ Crace recalls. ’To survive I had to stick my elbows

out. I was tough, focused and quite driven - I probably did offend.’ By

steadily climbing the career ladder, and still a relatively youthful 33,

Crace says she has now adopted a more pragmatic approach. ’I’ve probably

mellowed, but I’m not a soft kitten,’ she says.



Although she has worked for just two organisations, Crace has steadily

climbed up the career ladder, her CV littered with promotions. She

admits she’s ambitious, and industry observers note that she’s a smart

corporate operator. One says: ’There is a lot of company politics at IPC

and she’s been very good at playing that game. She’s used IPC as a

stepping stone and as a finishing school to get her where she

wanted.’



Media sources confirm that Crace has not lost her touch as a shrewd

trader, and those who have worked with her admire her zeal and

forthright nature.



Sly Bailey, managing director of the rebranded TV weeklies group, IPC

tx, comments: ’She’s very assertive, which sometimes makes for

interesting debates. She thumps things out and tells it like it is.’

Julie France, sales director at More Group, who was Crace’s boss at The

Express, says: ’She’s like the saying ’when she’s good she’s very, very

good, but when she’s bad she is horrid’. If she becomes disenchanted,

her focus goes and you lose her mentally.’



Mike Matthew, IPC’s chief executive, notes: ’If she says she will

deliver something, she delivers. There’s no waffle.’



Crace says the enormity of her role at IPC has, at times, unnerved her:

’Because this is a role that has never been done before, it makes it

quite scary. On the other hand, I can mould the job myself.’



There are some, however, who question Crace’s role, given the presence

of ad directors across each of IPC’s magazine groups. One media source

said: ’She’s obviously talked herself into a very good position at IPC,

but I just don’t understand what her role is.’



It is evidently time Crace canvassed the market, and she is aware that

she needs to get out. ’I admit that my role as ad director hasn’t been

out in the market as much as it should be. I’m an ambassador for IPC,

out there with clients and agencies, talking about the direction of IPC.

But I’m also doing some of the big deals.’



Crace cuts a popular figure through IPC and the media industry. Bailey

observes: ’There are few people who can make a difference on their own.

Georgina is one of those people.’



THE CRACE FILE

1986 Express Newspapers, sales executive

1990 Express Newspapers, group sales head

1992 Daily Star, ad manager

1994 Sunday Express, ad manager

1994 Daily Express, ad controller

1995 IPC Southbank, group ad sales director

1998 IPC Magazines, director of sales



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